I interviewed futzi01, creator of several fan favorite fangames including Canterlot Siege, Cadance Toss, and most recently Twilight Wing. futzi01 has been entertaining the fandom with fun, quick flash games based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and he sat down with us to discuss his methods, ideas behind game design, and more. Read the interview behind the cut!
How did you get into making video games?
As a kid I always liked them and wanted to make my own but had neither a PC nor any experience. But my wish was to become a programmer and make some games.
Around what age did you start learning to program?
I think I was 13 or 14. It was basic stuff (which I didn’t understand anyway). Around that time I also started using Flash as an animation tool. Since Flash also offers a script language, I also tried some programming with it.
What programming languages do you know other than ActionScript?
Java, some Scala, some C/C++… If you count markup and database languages too, then XML-like stuff: HTML, JSF and such, and some SQL. And Prolog, but I’m not sure where I could use it.
Which programming language would you say is your favorite?
ActionScript 3.0, but I also like Java.
How did you get into Friendship is Magic?
I’ve heard about it almost right from the beginning. My friend, who visits 4chan told that the board was flooded with ponies. As probably many of us, my initial thought was that its either some trolling, some sort of short lived fad, or that they were some weirdos. Then, over the year 2011, I regularly saw ponies on other sites like HALOLZ or the Cheezburger Network, and especially Know Your Meme. It seemed to be something big but I was somewhat afraid to check it out. Just as season 2 was about to start I said to myself, “Enough! I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it!” Then I started with the first episode.
Why did you decide to start making Friendship is Magic fangames?
I like Flash, I like the show, I like programming, I like video games. This probably gives a good idea why. Besides, there are lots of other fan made stuff but not that many games, and since I’m not an artist, games were a nice entry point.
What’s your favorite type of game to work on?
That’s a tough question. I like diversity, and things where I can put some effects in, and that are easy to make. Actually, I use games to experiment with new things; like with Pegadrome , I tried to make an online multiplayer game. Before that, I never did such a game. And Canterlot Siege was my first strategy and tower defense game.
Of the games you’ve made, which are your favorite?
Twilight Wing and Canterlot Siege. I also had hoped that Pony Tactics would become big, but due to some nasty bugs it wasn’t as great as I had planned. I also use Spike Toss if I want to show one of my games to other people because most of them are familiar with a certain popular game for mobile phones.
Twilight Wing is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up. Did you have any specific games in mind as inspiration when you were developing it?
Somewhat. I took some inspiration from NES games like Star Force and Gradius. And maybe some other games, but I can’t think of one at the moment.
Did those games play a significant role in your childhood?
Not really. I played other games too. Battletoads however did (in terms of difficulty). That might be the reason some people complain in the comments that some of my games are too hard.
Speaking of classic NES games, all of your fangames feature a secret unlocked by the Konami code. What inspired you to include this Easter Egg?
I actually was never aware of the code in NES games I played. The code was just popular so I decided to put it in because if you say there is a cheat code, the first code some people will think of is the Konami Code.
Have you worked on any games other than Friendship is Magic fangames?
Yes, I did some other Flash games in the past. most of them were terrible. Some of the less-bad ones can be found here. However, I didn’t do any other games after starting with pony stuff. You might notice that the game “space” is somewhat familiar.
What would you say your favorite video game is?
Sonic Adventure 2. I also like Portal and Portal 2 very much.
What are your favorite things about them?
I always liked Sonic games (and I still do), and SA2 was the first 3D one I played. I saw the level Final Rush (still my favorite level of any game) and instantly loved it. As for Portal, I love the really unique gameplay, puzzles, and humor. I also like the unique gameplay of Antichamber.
Do you have any plans for future fangames? Maybe something puzzle-y along the lines of Portal or Antichamber?
I had an idea for a game which utilizes a “mirror” concept with a fake world and a reflected true (discorded) world, which you see after you get a true sight spell as Twilight. However, a similar concept of a small game was already made by someone (I can’t remember the name of the person or the game). I worked a bit on my game but dropped it shortly afterwards. An unfinished version without the mirror can be found here.
I’d like to thank you for granting us an interview. Before I end it, is there anything you’d like to tell the readers?
Game making is a good way to start software development, but don’t go for a game developer job. (I don’t work as a game developer, by the way.)
Could you explain why not?
Stressful job, the pay isn’t that great, lots of competition, not very stable. You can get a much better job as a software developer. But if you do some game development in the free time, it really helps to get some understanding of software development.
How do you feel about independent game development?
It’s interesting to see all the creative ideas like Minecraft, Antichamber, and others, but I think that probably only a small group of indie developers are really successful. I’m pretty sure there are lots of other great indie games which aren’t that successful as they could be.
That concludes the interview. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
My pleasure. ■